Real Help for Real Living: I felt like Richard Gere in “Pretty Woman”

by Rev. Tony Marciano

First, get your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking about the closing scene in “Pretty Woman.”

Richard Gere is driven up to Miss Vivian’s apartment. He has to climb the fire escape to “rescue Rapunzel from the tower.” The problem is he’s petrified of heights. He starts to climb but wants to turn back because of his fear of heights. Yet his love for Miss Vivian (Julia Roberts) is stronger than his fear of heights. He conquers his fear and wins her hearts.

OK, so what does that have to do with me being in “Pretty Woman”? I too am scared of heights. My wife asked me to clean the back deck. I fired up the pressure washer and cleaned it. I moved to the side of the house where we had some mildew. The pressure washer removed it with no effort. From where I stood on the ground, I was able to reach eight feet up the side of the house. But I needed to get higher than that. A lot higher.

That’s when I felt like Richard Gere.

I got out the extension ladder and climbed the side of the house. Since my wife’s “love language” is acts of service, I was going to prove my love for her. There I stood on the fifth rung, holding on for dear life while I reached half way up the second floor. I had proven my devotion for her. More than diamonds (and a lot cheaper), I climbed the ladder.

I was on a roll. I moved to the other side of the house and removed the mildew there. Then she asked me to clean the front window. Not to be deterred, I moved the ladder and cleaned that window. The angle was awkward, but I climbed the ladder, bending backward to get it clean.

That’s when it happened.

The pressure washer started to make funny noises. Pressure stopped. I squeezed the trigger a few more times and the pressure came back. But so did those scary sounds coming from the pressure washer. Suddenly, I felt like I was watching a cartoon from our childhood. You remember – the car is going down the road and the engine falls out of the bottom of it. Parts started dropping out of the bottom of the pressure washer. I shut it off; afraid parts were going to go flying. Convinced those parts were not important, I asked my wife to turn on the water again. Water poured from the bottom. I turned it over and some very important parts were missing.

Later that night, I visited Lowe’s and learned that some pressure washers automatically run cold water through the pump when it reaches 155 degrees. Others use oil to keep it lubricated and flowing. Also, you’re supposed to inject grease at the end of the season and the start of the season to insure you don’t burn out the pump. I never did any of those things.

I just ran it and ran it and ran it for several hours. I didn’t know it could overheat. I didn’t know about keeping the pump greased. And I certainly didn’t know about giving it a rest so it could cool down.

Let me ask you, do you run yourself as hard as I ran my pressure washer?  Do you think you can burn the candle at both ends and still keep it together? Do you work mega hours and deprive yourself of adequate sleep?

My pump broke because it wasn’t designed to run non-stop. Research showed it is designed to last 50 hours. The only way I could get it to last 300 hours – the life of the gas engine – was to give it a rest.

If you’re tired, if you’re cranky because you’re worn out, if you’ve been taking care of everyone else but yourself, stop. Be good to yourself. As good as you are to everyone else.

I’ll be back in two weeks. Until then, live well, my friend.

Rev. Tony Marciano is executive director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission, which provides a free, long-term Christian recovery program for men and women addicted to drugs and alcohol.

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